Professional Technical Writer
As a seasoned technical writer with 20 years of experience, I have seen the output of my profession go from huge, voluminous manuals that often weigh more than the equipment they describe to what I call
"chunky bits" which are encapsulated pieces of information to get a user on with the task at hand. Chunky bits are great for online help and Web-based assistance. The focus of documentation in the
past ten years has gone from educating the user to getting the user through a tight place and on with the task.
No matter the output, I still have the skills and aptitude to assess content and craft it into material perfectly geared toward the target audience. Sometimes, I collect the grist for my mill on my
own through interviews with subject matter experts, by researching the subject on my own, or by building upon my own knowledge. Sometimes, I take engineer-provided documents and shape them
into something suitable for the customer.
No company in its right mind would send out documents created by its developers and engineers. With very few exceptions, the notion that an engineer or developer has excellent writing skills is
pure folly. In a recent interview for a potential contract, one of the managers objected to the use of a technical writer if the engineers were going to document the systems anyway. The manager then
turned to me and said: "No offense." I simply replied: "None taken, but have you actually read what they write? No offense." I won the contract.
Recently, I completed an assignment that spanned three continents and multiple time zones. Because I have a fully equipped home office, I created a work schedule for myself that accommodated the
various core working hours and conducted activities through conference calls and email. It was an enjoyable experience. How often do you get to chat with people in India, Croatia, Sweden, Ireland,
and the U.S.in one day? I function very effectively in a telecommuting situation.
I like technical writing. No, let me make that "I REALLY like technical writing." Why? Because there is always a challenge. Maybe I have a touch of A.D.D., but I do enjoy learning new material,
new processes, new tools, new anything (legal). Any good technical writer can be handed a new tool and start using it in a very short time. Why? Because it is in our nature to learn. I haven't
touched RoboHelp for nearly ten years when I was one of the first beta testers for the fledgling company, but I could pick up using the latest version in little time. I worked with
Framemaker years ago. Give me the latest version, and I'll be using it. That's what technical writers are good at -- figuring things out. Most of us have high analytical aptitudes.
(< brag mode on > Mine was in the 96th percentile on the GRE.< brag mode off >)
At any rate, if you want documentation that doesn't make you look stupid or careless, hire a technical writer.
Some professional recommendations are:
"Beverly is the sort of person who can make things happen. She has technical
skills, interpersonal skills, technical and creative writing skills, is good
with PR and media relations. She was one of the key individuals who made our
many events work, including an International Space Development Conference. She
also was one of the earliest adoptors of CBB technology, doing so before most
had even heard of it.
If you need it done, she can probably do
"Beverly is an excellent technical writer. She has a great end user perspective
of the technical documents. She is very disciplined and organized in gathering
bits and pieces of information and producing coherently flowing documents.
Beverly effectively uses her past project experience in structuring and
organizing technical documents. Beverly understands the urgency and importance
of her deliverable and goes extra mile to make things happen.
In addition to
the project documentation I have had a chance to go through few books Beverly
edited and she did a wonderful job in that as well."
--Bheema Prakash Adkasthala, PMP